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Lunchbox solutions from the kitchen of Jennifer Davis

by bkhoury on September 01, 2011

The joy of sending my two (not so) little ones off to school last week was quickly tempered by the fact that I now have to face nine months of packing school lunches.  I also got a charming request from my first grader: no repeat lunches. It went something like this: “Think about it, mom.  This way, I can eat the rainbow of healthy food you’re always talking about and you can brush up on your cooking skills!”  Um, yeah.  Thanks kid.

Adding to the lunchbox conundrum is the fact that our school is nut-free (sayonara PB&J) and one half of my dynamic kid duo is vegetarian.  What’s a mom to do? 

First, I told Mr. No Repeat that A.) my cooking skills are exceptional, thankyouverymuch and B.) while there are definitely going to be repeats, I understand that he’s looking for a little variety.  The next thing was to give Ms. Vegetarian the heads up that lunches are going to look a little different this year.  Here’s my strategy:

Bust out the Food Processor
I’ve discovered that you can turn just about anything into a sandwich spread with the help of this handy kitchen appliance.  Hummus is the obvious choice, but once you’ve mastered that, try some new combinations. 

- Edamame, cilantro and lime juice

- White beans, garlic and rosemary

- Cream cheese, sun dried tomatoes

Simply slather one of these concoctions on bread, add your favorite veggies (shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes) and you’ve got yourself a protein-packed, nut free vegetarian feast.

Mix up the Bread
The simple act of switching up the bread you use for sandwiches can add enough variety to keep things interesting.  There are so many choices at the store these days—sandwich thins, mini bagels, lavash, pita bread, English muffins—load up on your favorites, keep them in the freezer and watch the magic happen come sandwich making time.
Buy a Thermos
My kids are most excited about this strategy.  A thermos can be a great lunch rut-buster.  We’re still basking in 80 degree weather, but as soon as there is so much as a hint of fall in the air, I’m “repurposing” the week’s leftovers, sending the kids to school with thermoses full of soup, baked ziti, vegetarian chili and even mac and cheese as a special treat. 

I’m hoping these few changes can help take the monotony out of school lunches, keeping Mr. No Repeat, Ms. Vegetarian and the lunch chef sane, happy and well-fed.  What about you?  Any lunch time secrets you can share?  Leave a comment and help a mother out!

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